Professionalism In Theatre: Problems And Prospects
Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation (BGTF), an organisation of theatre troupes from across the country, organised a roundtable yesterday (November 1) at the seminar room of the national theatre hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), on “Professionalism in group theatre practice”. A number of notable cultural and media personalities were present at the discussion, along with top theatre personalities.
Thespian Mamunur Rashid conducted the discussion, and interjected between the speakers. Speaking there, Syed Dulal, an avid activist running a theatre studio at district level, said many theatre activists come to Dhaka from the district-level troupes, adding that the financial limitations must be overcome to continue the pipeline of theatre practitioners to Dhaka from the district levels.
Theatre veteran Lucky Inam spoke about the crisis of women theatre activists, citing familial and social pressure. She also said all the troupes are continuing the struggle for professionalism, and BGTF and BSA must come up with a complete plan and place it to the government.
Thespian Ataur Rahman raised the point that even if the shows are houseful, it cannot support theatre artistes and activists. He said apart from Broadway (in the US), theatre receives grants from the government in every country, adding that the government has to play the key role in turning it into a professional sector.
Tauquir Ahmed shed light on the dearth of youths coming into theatre, joking that it was students and unemployed who have driven theatre. He noted that many established theatre artistes of today had to forego job offers outside Dhaka to continue passion, but many had also had to leave the arena for it. He further observed that theatre may have failed to establish its importance to viewers, causing them to shy away from it despite the menial ticket prices.
On the issue of integration of students of theatre as an academic subject, Dr. Israfil Shahin, professor at the department of theatre and performance studies at Dhaka University, called on theatre leaders to incorporate the departments in their movements and ensure stronger participation of the departments and its students.
Sadya Afreen Mallick, Editor of Star Arts & Entertainment, cited the example of the Bengal Classical Music Festival and theatre at London's West End that is thronged by audiences who have gradually developed interest and are enjoying the high arts. She said the troupes should also look to avail the CSR funds by all banks, made mandatory by Bangladesh Bank.
Liaquat Ali Lucky, Director General of BSA presided over the session, and concluded by saying that BSA will sit in talks with the government about the legal and technical matters regarding a proposed salary grant and other related issues.